Trinity College Dublin has installed four new sculptures of influential women in its Old Library, marking the first time that sculptures of women have appeared in the historic Long Room.
Sculptures of 18th-century women's rights activist Molly Wollstonecraft, 19th-century mathematician Ada Lovelace, Irish writer Lady Augusta Gregory, and British scientist Rosalind Franklin were unveiled in Trinity's Old Library to mark St. Brigid's Day on February 1.
The new sculptures are the first to be commissioned in more than a century and will be displayed among the 40 marble sculptures in Trinity's Long Room.
The room was hitherto exclusively decorated with sculptures of prominent men throughout history, including Greek poet Homer, William Shakespeare, and Irish revolutionary Theobald Wolfe Tone.
We are pleased to introduce our four new sculptures. Enjoy watching the installation of the magnificent new work by artist Maudie Brady of Ada Lovelace, celebrating women’s scholarship in the Long Room being launched tonight. #OldLibraryRedevelopment #WomenScholars @tcddublin pic.twitter.com/NGjoR5Vo7M— The Library of Trinity College Dublin (@tcdlibrary) February 1, 2023
The four women were chosen in 2020 after students, staff, and alumni nominated more than 500 women who made significant contributions to scholarship and culture throughout history.
Their sculptures were launched by Trinity's Chancellor Dr. Mary McAleese during a ceremony in the Long Room on Wednesday, while their addition has been described as a step forward for Trinity's diversity.
Trinity College Provost and President Linda Doyle welcomed the installation of the new sculptures, adding that it was a long time coming.
“While it is important to respect tradition, it is also important to break tradition. The addition of these sculptures of women has been a long time coming. I want to thank everyone involved in the creation and installation of these beautiful pieces," Doyle said in a statement.
"Sculptures are an iconic feature of Trinity's Long Room, and I hope that the inclusion of these four outstanding women is the furthering of a collective recognition of the incredible contribution of women across many fields."
These #TrailblazingWomen are scientist Rosalind Franklin, folklorist, dramatist and theatre founder Augusta Gregory, mathematician Ada Lovelace and women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft #StBrigid #StBrigidsDay #LaFheileBride pic.twitter.com/AN02WfUfqn— Trinity College Dublin (@tcddublin) February 1, 2023
Trinity College librarian Helen Shenton also welcomed the addition of the new sculptures.
"On this auspicious day, St Brigid’s Day, we celebrate women’s scholarship with these sculptures in the Long Room of the Old Library. Their individual contributions to knowledge and to society will now be permanently honored in this cathedral of learning at the heart of Trinity."